Windows Services in C#: Sending Commands to your Windows Service (part 7)

Yesterday we looked at starting and stopping your windows service from another application. It would also be helpful to be able to send other commands beyond the basic set of Start/Stop/Pause etc.

On the good side, there is an API through which it is possible to send a command to your windows service, fairly easily as a matter of fact. The down side is it’s a one way communication, through the built in mechanism it’s not possible to return any data. Even more limiting is the only data you are allowed to pass in is an integer, and it’s value must be between 128 and 255.

Even with those limitations, if all you need to do is execute a few simple commands the built in API can be more than enough to meet your needs.

To illustrate, we’ll expand the windows service we’ve been using as an example. We’ll add the ability to send a command that will force the event log to be updated immediately, rather than waiting on the timer to fire off its event.

First, we’ll add two items to the service. The first is a public enum. Strictly speaking we don’t have to use an enum, but it makes for more readability.

    // Must be int between 128 and 255

    public enum commands

    {

      LogIt = 255

    }

Next we’ll add a new method to the windows service called OnCustomCommand. This is an override to the base classes method. As you can see it first calls the base method, then checks the value of the integer that was passed in, in this case against our enum. If it finds a match, it calls the WriteToLog method immediately. (The WriteToLog was discussed yesterday, so I won’t reiterate here).

    protected override void OnCustomCommand(int command)

    {

      base.OnCustomCommand(command);

      if (command == (int)commands.LogIt)

      {

        WriteToLog(“Arcane LogIt:”);       

      }

    }

OK, that’s all that’s needed for the service. Let’s switch to our program, and add another button called LogIt.

[Pic of TLManager]

Now we’ll add a little code to the click event for the log it button.

    private void btnLogIt_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)

    {

      ServiceController sc = new ServiceController(“ArcaneTimeLogging”);

      sc.ExecuteCommand(255);

    }

Like in our other examples we create a reference to our service by creating a new ServiceController object and passing in the name of our service. Once we have an sc object we call the ExecuteCommand method. This allows us to send messages to a windows service.

Numbers 0-127 are reserved for windows, and are handled in the base class. 128 to 255 are there for your own use. In the example above I used 255 just to show that you could pass an integer value directly without using an enum.

One last small item, we don’t want the LogIt button to be enabled if our service isn’t running. We’ll add a little logic to the SetDisplay, Start and Stop methods to include setting the buttons enabled status properly. Here’s the updated routines.

    private void SetDisplay(ServiceController sc)

    {

      sc.Refresh();

      if (sc.Status == ServiceControllerStatus.Stopped)

      {

        btnStop.Enabled = false;

        btnStart.Enabled = true;

        btnLogIt.Enabled = false;

        lblStatus.Text = “Stopped”;

      }

      if (sc.Status == ServiceControllerStatus.Running)

      {

        btnStart.Enabled = false;

        btnStop.Enabled = true;

        btnLogIt.Enabled = true;

        lblStatus.Text = “Running”;

      }

    }

 

    private void btnStart_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)

    {

      ServiceController sc = new ServiceController(“ArcaneTimeLogging”);

      sc.Start();

      btnStart.Enabled = false;

      btnStop.Enabled = true;

      lblStatus.Text = “Running”;

      sc.Refresh();

    }

 

    private void btnStop_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)

    {

      ServiceController sc = new ServiceController(“ArcaneTimeLogging”);

      sc.Stop();

      btnStop.Enabled = false;

      btnStart.Enabled = true;

      lblStatus.Text = “Stopped”;

      sc.Refresh();

    }

And that’s all there is to it. Compile and reinstall your service, then launch your TLManager program. With the service started, click the LogIt button a few times then go into MMC and take a look at your event log. You should see a new message appear each time you click the LogIt button.